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DEATH BY KEYBOARD: Cyber bullying by self-defense experts

This is a sample of the lovely comments we receive whenever CrossFit Defense makes the news.

This is a sample of the lovely comments we receive whenever CrossFit Defense makes the news.


I get asked (often) why I engage detractors online?  Why would I waste time trying to educate ‘trolls’?

The truth is I am not trying to educate ‘trolls’. My online opponents aren’t 15 year old kids living in the basement with names like [email protected], no, sadly most are grown adults.  Worse, and most alarming is that most of the online ’sniping’ comes from the martial artist community! It gets worse. The most insensitive, rude, naive, asinine comments come from self-defense instructors and martial art school owners!

Isn’t that odd?  The very people who have dedicated a part of their life to studying and teaching self-defense also assault people.

Forgive me if I’m old-fashioned but aren’t dignity, integrity, honor, truth some of the virtues that martial arts purports to cultivate? One would think that those who’ve dedicated years to their training would possess a modicum of dignity and self-awareness. A timeless martial maxim states: “If you can’t control yourself how can you expect to control another?”

If I’m being too esoteric here, let’s shift gears and talk about irony: don’t all martial arts purport to help students deal with bullying?  So how f’n ironic is it that its mainly martial artists (online) who happen to be the biggest bullies out there??

When the latest online ambush hit my Facebook page, it was my good friend Barry Eisler (sushi connoisseur, novelist and lifelong martial artist) who posted, “Really? Again?” or something to that effect.  I called Barry and we got into a deep and philosophical dialog.  I stopped him and said, “We gotta tape this!” So I opened up Skype and we recorded our conversation.  Our goal was simple: Try to save the world via the Internet! Try to make sense of  the self-defense vs martial arts debate and to psychoanalyze bullies whose parents we never met and much more :-) The video is just five minutes away, so enjoy the rest of my mini rant and then sit back and enjoy our talk while we do our best to make sense of the world’s most dangerous adversary: the human mind.


“If you claim to want to help people why must you also keep them helpless?”.

When I read that in the 80’s it hit me like a simultaneous head-butt and kick in the nuts.  It rocked me. It changed how I coached immediately.  Teachers, coaches, trainers….if your identity is attached to people ‘needing’ to ask you for help, then your ego’s survival will make sure you keep them helpless.  It’s a deep and delicate thought.  I’ll let you meditate on it.


No one likes a bully.  And no one likes being bullied.  Even bullies dislike bullies.

My theory goes like this: young bullies were afraid of being bullied too. At some point the bully turns to XYZ martial art to address their fear.  But the fear management they sought wasn’t about self-reliance or resiliency is was about power and domination. Now, if they had the cliché  ‘Cobra kai-esque’ bully instructor or one who only taught the physical side of fighting, then that bully, the one who was afraid of being bullied by a bigger bully, never learned about respect, integrity, patience, loyalty, virtue and the other tenets that serious training can foster. There was no cathartic experience.  The training never purged the bully’s inner demons… [My friend Rodney King of Crazy Monkey has some deep thoughts on this as well…perhaps a future video blog – Rodney?)


A lot of the online attention is because the name CROSSFIT is attached to our new course called: CrossFit Defense. The online hate is a knee-jerk reaction from the CrossFit haters who assume CrossFit has decided to move into the martial arts world too. That is not the case. CrossFit Defense was developed for the CrossFit community.  It is not for martial artists, nor does it claim to replace anyones love of martial arts. The core movement and strategies were designed by me based on my 30+ years experience as a self-defense coach and blended with my appreciation of CrossFit’s ‘core to extremity’ movements. I understand the community and its fundamental movements, I’ve been CrossFitting since 2006 and found a simple way fuse movement patterns to create a ‘easy to learn/simple to use’ self-defense program. The foundation of CrossFit Defense is our SPEAR System –  a tried, tested, and trusted program that is used by law enforcement, military and conscientious self-defense instructors from all over the world.  But that’s neither here nor there, regardless of what someone’s stylistic preference is I find it reprehensible for any professional instructor to post a comment like this one:

“That program is shit and there’s no way a woman can learn to defend herself in a weekend…there is no way she could do that at combat speed”.  – An actual post from someone’s self-defense instructor

Suppose you or your Mom or your sister were thinking of taking a simple course on safety and awareness. How could the headline ‘CrossFit: The Worst self-defense program’ influence them? How does the Facebook post above or the quote you just read influence people?  Professionally its rude.  Ethically its disturbing. Morally its anorexic. It also helps keep people helpless. The bully-ego needs to be fed.


Self-defense predates ALL martial arts.

Yep, that’s a fact.  Long before martial arts were developed people fought. What do you think they did? They flinched, they pushed away danger.  They used instinctive, primal and gross motor tactics that were elemental and fundamental to their survival.  (I demo and explain this in the video below). The central nervous system of our self-defense program is built using the body’s central nervous system. The SPEAR System is entirely based on human survival physiology, the very system that helped our ancestors survive & evolve – it truly is the evolution of paleolithic self-defense. 


Self-defense is not about techniques and complex motor skills.

Real world self-defense is about improving awareness, managing fear and thinking fast and then moving fast using primal & gross motor tactics.


Our thesis statement is on point: “What does your body want to do prior to any training? Does that have a protective or combative application? If yes, then why aren’t you using it? You are already a human weapon system.


Real fights are the ones you can’t avoid. The self-defense system you trust your safety to must resonate with and be compatible with physiological and behavioral responses. Why is that unreasonable? Your protective system must be realistic and relevant.


If you are a human, then this applies to you. A stimulus introduced too quickly triggers the reactive brain’s response. This bypasses cognition. The SPEAR System embraces physiology. *HWS BTW stands for ‘Human Weapon System’. You are one, don’t forget that.

I started this blog entry explaining why I invest my time online…simple, if you got this far, then that’s why.

I’m not writing to the haters, I’m writing for the readers.

Stay safe, train hard and have a great day!

Coach Blauer


All truth passes through three stages.

First, it is ridiculed.

Second, it is violently opposed.

Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

– Arthur Schopenhauer

Here’s the video of Barry and I trying to solve the world’s problems.

DEATH BY KEYBOARD: Cyber bullying by self-defense experts from Tony Blauer on Vimeo.



Folks, if you see a provocative or sensationalized headline, pause.  Weigh & consider it. Don’t slap away at the keyboard without doing any research.  Use that handy little search box and put Google to work for you.

“I can show you how to use a fire extinguisher very quickly.  

It’ll make you safer. It might save your life, but it won’t make you a fireman. “

*Get the metaphor?  Read the complete NOTE on Facebook

 Here it is on the CrossFit message board if you boycott FB :-)

Learn more about training courses here

Click here to read what police, military, first responders and self-defense instructors think about Coach Tony Blauer’s SPEAR System.

2 Responses to DEATH BY KEYBOARD: Cyber bullying by self-defense experts

  1. Karl Koch says:

    Having trained for almost 35 years in martial arts, I want to say that I totally agree with you on this. Well written and well said!!!

  2. Dan Strametz says:

    That was great listening to Death By Keyboard. We are fighting the good fight.



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